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Full text of "Statues of Abraham Lincoln. groups without Lincoln"

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Statues of 
Abraham Lincoln 



John Rogers 
Groups without Lincoln 



Excerpts from newspapers and other 

sources 



From the files of the 
Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection 



7/ SLD03. 055 oldO*, 



ROGERS' GROUPS. 




COMING TO THE PABSON. Price, $15.00. 

These groups are packed, without extra charge, 
to go to any part of the world, and their safe arrival 
guaranteed. If intended for Wedding Presents, 
they will be forwarded promptly as directed. Il- 
lustrated catalogues of groups, and pedestals. in 
ebonized wood, can be had on application, or will 
be mailed by enclosing Ten Cents to 

JOHN ROGERS, 23 Union Square, New York. 

Visitors are always welcome. 

..A . -I i M 1 



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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

State of Indiana through the Indiana State Library 



http://archive.org/details/staturlinc 




'Checkers Up at the Farm," the First and One of the Most Popular of John Rogers' Group Statuettes. Once Figures 
Like This Adorned the Parlors of America. They Now May Be Found In Secondhand Dealers' Stores, Attics and; 



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HIS OWN PRICE LIST 

148. ROGERS, JOHN. Groups of Statuary. The 
ongmator's own Price list. 4to, 6 pages, N Y 
1876. Illustrated with 36 reproductions of his 
groups, carefully described. Complete price list 
of all his work up to date IN NEW YORK. "No 
charge made for packing". In immaculate state 
of Preservation. In protective case. LIKELY 
UNIQU ?T r , • 22.5(1 





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Prices in New York, 1878. 



Hide and Seek (Boy) $50 CO 

.." « (Girl) 50 00 

Pedestal for do. 10 00 

Bubbles 35 00 

Fairy's Whisper 25 00 

Fugitive's Story 25 00 

Council of War 25 00 

The Mock Trial 20 0O 

The Favored Scholar 18 00 

Challenging the Union Vote. . . . 15 00 

Taking the Oath . . 15 00 

Tap on the Window 15 00 

The Foundling 15 00 

Coming to the Parson ". 15 00 

Courtship in Sleepy Hollow ... 15 00 

One More Shot 15 00 

Wounded Scout . 15 00 

Union Refugees 15 00 

The Traveling Magician 15 00 

Private Theatricals 15 00 

Country Post Office. 15 00 



Weighing the Baby $15 00 

Checkers ur at the Farm 15 00 

Washington , 1 5 00 

School Examination .■ . 1 6 00 

Charity Patient 1 6 CO 

Uncle Ned'a School 1 5 00 

Returned Volunteer 1 5 00 

Playing Doctor. . 1 5 00 

School Days 12 00 

Parting Promise 12 00 

Rip Van Winkle at Home 12 00 

Rip Van Winkle on the Mountain 12 00 

Rip Van Winkle Returned.. 12 00 

We Boys 12 00 

Home Guard 10 CO 

Mail Day 10 00 

The Shaugraun and "Tatters".. 10 00 

Town Pump 10 00 

Picket Guard 10 00 

Going for the Cows 10 00 



NO CHARGE WILL BE MADE FOR PACKING. 

Orders can he sent with the price of the Group, directed to 

JOHN ROGERS, 1155 Broadway, New York, 

and they will be forwarded by freight or express as directed. 






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The Travelers Protection 



The 1939 Travelers Calendars 
Receive Warm Reception 



THE Travelers John Rogers 
Groups Calendar is evoking 
an enthusiastic response from 
those who have received it. Many 
letters have been received from 
Travelers representatives, busi- 
ness men, editors, antiquarians 
and others praising it very highly. 
Here are some brief excerpts 
from some of the many letters 
received : 

"We admired the Currier and Ives 
calendars so greatly that we have 
wondered more than once what could 
possibly be done comparable in interest 
and have even gone so far as to try to 
think up something in our own mind," 
writes a business man. 

"The advance copy of the Rogers 
calendar is, in our opinion, a stroke of 
real genius. Having been brought up in 
this atmosphere and as a youngster 
making a mental collection of the vari- 
ous groups we encountered when we 
were dragged around by our parents to 
make calls, and having at one time 
actually possessed an original by Mr. 
Rogers, you can realize that we write 
feelingly. 

"We feel sure that your public is 
going to respond to this time and period 
and these very worthy expressions of 
American life in what is sometimes 
termed the General Grant or Black 



Walnut period. Again you have the 
happy satisfaction of having accom- 
plished something not only well worth 
while but of distinct interest and value 
to the present day." 

"My calendars received in O.K. con- 
dition," says a Travelers representative. 
"Thank you more than I can tell you. 
It is a deep and abiding satisfaction to 
be able to place such a fine bit of 
'culture and art' as this calendar is, 
into the hands of highly discriminating 
friends and prospects. 

"Will you please help me with a 
problem encountered on the delivery 
of the very first of my supply of calen- 
dars. The lady of the house remem- 
bered a Rogers group which her parents 
had 'chucked' into the attic — the 
Coming to the Parson one. Later she 
telephoned me that she had found it 
and in perfect condition." 




October 26, 1938 

"You have selected a subject which 
is extremely interesting to us and we 
consider your calendar a fine tribute to 
the memory of John Rogers," writes 
the Assistant Secretary of a New 
England institute. 

"We should appreciate receiving 
another calendar to be placed in our 
file of material relating to John Rogers. 
We can then display the one we already 
have near the Groups." 

"It's a very good job and retains the 
'American' interest," comments a New 
York business man. "It ought to go 
over well." 

"I was brought up in the company of 
Rogers Groups, and when I first joined 
the Salmagundi Club in New York, the 
Club then occupied the former studio 
of Rogers in West 12th Street," recalls 
the sales manager of a large publishing 
concern. 

' 'You will know that my interest in 
these Victorian pieces has been and is 
very great. They represent a phase of 
art appreciation in America which was 
almost universal. 

"As 'Americana,' a phase of life and 
times, the calendar is magnificent, and 
it will be a collector's item, as all your 





calendars have been. It merits wide 
appreciation, which is certain to be 
met." 

"It is an extremely creditable per- 
formance and must be one of great 
interest to countless people," writes an 
antiquarian. 

"Another distinguished and original 
job," comments a well-known adver- 
tising man. "I'll predict a sell-out." 

"It certainly is a beauty and in keep- 
ing with the good taste shown on the 
Currier and Ives series," says the vice- 
president of a Boston company. 

"I settled an estate recently of an 
old cousin of my mother, and among 
the household effects were two of these 
Rogers groups." 

"As usual the Travelers calendar is 
interesting and decorative," writes the 
director of advertising of a well known 
magazine. "When I was a small boy on 
a Connecticut farm we had one of these 
statuettes." 

"To an oldtimer like myself who 
grew up in a small town where the 
Rogers groups were regarded as real 
works of art," writes an insurance 
editor, "this calendar will recall happy 
days." 

"The selection is very clever, and 
will be sure to cause much favorable 
comment," predicts a Connecticut 
woman. "It may indeed rival the fine 
one on Currier and Ives." 



October 26, 1938 

"You have selected a subject which 
is extremely interesting to us and we 
consider your calendar a fine tribute to 
the memory of John Rogers," writes 
the Assistant Secretary of a New 
England institute. 

"We should appreciate receiving 
another calendar to be placed in our 
file of material relating to John Rogers. 
We can then display the one we already 
have near the Groups." 

"It's a very good job and retains the 
'American' interest," comments a New 
York business man. "It ought to go 
over well." 

"I was brought up in the company of 
Rogers Groups, and when I first joined 
the Salmagundi Club in New York, the 
Club then occupied the former studio 
of Rogers in West 12th Street," recalls 
the sales manager of a large publishing 
concern. 

"You will know that my interest in 
these Victorian pieces has been and is 
very great. They represent a phase of 
art appreciation in America which was 
almost universal. 

"As 'Americana,' a phase of life and 
times, the calendar is magnificent, and 
it will be a collector's item, as all your 





calendars have been. It merits wide 
appreciation, which is certain to be 
met." 

"It is an extremely creditable per- 
formance and must be one of great 
interest to countless people," writes an 
antiquarian. 

"Another distinguished and original 
job," comments a well-known adver- 
tising man. "I'll predict a sell-out." 

"It certainly is a beauty and in keep- 
ing with the good taste shown on the 
Currier and Ives series," says the vice- 
president of a Boston company. 

"I settled an estate recently of an 
old cousin of my mother, and among 
the household effects were two of these 
Rogers groups." 

"As usual the Travelers calendar is 
interesting and decorative," writes the 
director of advertising of a well known 
magazine. "When I was a small boy on 
a Connecticut farm we had one of these 
statuettes." 

"To an oldtimer like myself who 
grew up in a small town where the 
Rogers groups were regarded as real 
works of art," writes an insurance 
editor, "this calendar will recall happy 
days." 

"The selection is very clever, and 
will be sure to cause much favorable 
comment," predicts a Connecticut 
woman. "It may indeed rival the fine 
one on Currier and Ives." 



The Travelers Calendar 



DURING the same period in which 
Currier and Ives were producing their 
colorful lithographs, a man by the name of 
Rogers was offering plaster casts of little 
statuary groups to the public. It was one of 
the earliest attempts to model popular sub- 
jects and probably the first time that such 
art work was available to the public at 
reasonable prices. Rogers, to use his own 
words, "published" his groups. 

John Rogers was born in Salem, Mass., on 
October 30, 1829. At the age of 16 he was 
sent to Boston as the apprentice to a mer- 
chant. He cared little for that work and later 
tried his hand as a machinist and as a 
draughtsman. While working in Manchester, 
N. H., he discovered some good clay. He 
whittled a few tools, and began modeling for 
his own amusement. In the winter of 1858-59 
he was without employment and took the 
opportunity to go to Italy for a brief period 
of study. 

Returning in 1859, he became a surveyor's 
draughtsman in Chicago. The U. S. Sanitary 
Commission held a fair that year. As a dona- 
tion, Rogers modeled a small group which 
he called "Checker Players" (not the same as 
"Checkers up at the Farm"). The group was 
auctioned off to the highest bidder. It 
brought $75. 

Rogers immediately saw that if one group 
could be sold at that figure, there was a pos- 
sibility of selling many groups, especially at a 
lower price. He recalled that he had seen the 
Italians making plaster reproductions. He 
hastened to New York and began experi- 
menting. Rogers hired men to peddle them 
about the streets and soon had his first taste 
of favor, fame and fortune. 

The models were first made in clay. 
Around this was poured a flexible glue of 
Rogers' own formula. The mold was cut 
open, the clay original removed, and plaster 
poured in. As the groups became more com- 
plicated and the number of orders increased, 
Rogers found that he had constantly to re- 
pair the original. This led him to employ a 
bronze-maker to make a metal original from 
which many molds could be made without 
damage. A number of these bronzes will be 
displayed in the John Rogers room to be 
opened in the new wing of the New York 
Historical Society late in 1938. 

The outbreak of the civil war naturally 
suggested war subjects, of which he modeled 
eighteen. There was little of the horrible side 
of warfare and most of the scenes applied 
equally to northern or southern activities. 
For instance, "The Town Pump" depicts a 
soldier stopping to chat with a girl as he gets 
a drink of water; "The Camp Fire" shows a 
soldier who hopes to improve his rations by 
making friends with the cook; "Mail Day" 
and "Parting Promise" involve emotions 
common to soldiers of either side. In fact, 
"Taking the Oath" quite appealed to the 
South because of the beautiful Southern 
woman glorified in that group. However, the 
bulk of the sales were in New York, New 
England and the Middle West. 

Rogers established a home and a studio in 
New York where he worked until 1878 in 
which year he moved into his newly built 
home in New Canaan, Conn. A separate 
building on the premises housed his studio. 

It is estimated that a total of nearly 100,- 
000 casts were made from approximately 
eighty different subjects. The groups may be 
divided into three general classifications, — 
civil war, every day life, and literary sub- 
jects. They represented a number of different 



of 



John Rogers Groups 



1939 



[Illustrations rendered in water colors by Morton C. Hansen] 



occupations, a variety of settings, and many 
contemporary costumes. Most of them 
weighed more than one hundred pounds 
when packed for shipment. In spite of their 
fragile nature, they were shipped safely sur- 
rounded by sawdust in wooden boxes. Buyers 
were warned not to lift the group out of the 
box but to lift the box off the group. 

The earliest groups were eight to sixteen 
inches high; the later groups, 'twenty to 
twenty-two inches in height. By mass pro- 
duction and distribution, the price was kept 
down to a point where many could afford 
them. In many a home, a Rogers Group was 
the center of interest in the parlor. It usually 
stood on a table at a bay window where it 
could be seen also from the street, perhaps as 
an indication of affluence or culture. Many 
were used as gifts. "Playing Doctor," "The 
Charity Patient" and "Fetching the Doc- 
tor" were seen in doctors' waiting rooms. 

Rogers Groups were good sculpture. The 
composition was good; the poses interesting; 
the portraits faithful. For good-looking 
models, Rogers had only to call for his wife 
and children who posed for many of the 
groups. Joseph Jefferson and Edwin Booth 
also posed for Rogers. Most of the subjects 
contain a delightful bit of humor. Even the 
most serious are free from any harshness. 
The story in each group is evident even with- 
out the title. The human-interest angle is the 
same as that which later made The Saturday 
Evening Post covers so popular. 

Rogers loved animals. He put cats and 
dogs into his groups whenever there was 
opportunity. His rendition of the horse is re- 
markably perfect. It is typical of the man 
that he spent considerable time studying the 
anatomy of the horse from dissections made 
at the Veterinary College in New York City. 
He made a number of studies of the skeleton 
and muscle system which he made available 
to students at cost. In the building on 



JANUARY 
Weighing the Baby (1876). A scene in a 
country store. A lady has taken her baby 
into the store to be weighed, and has placed 
it in the grocer's scales, which are on the 
counter. She smiles with pride at the high 
weight indicated. The old grocer stares in 
astonishment. Neither see a mischievous 
boy who, by tugging at the scales, has in- 
creased the weight registered. The lady in 
the group is the sculptor's wife and the small 
boy is his son Charles. The cheeses, ginger 
jar, whisk-brooms and account book are 
interesting as typical furnishings of a store 
of that period. 

FEBRUARY 
The School Examination (1867). A shy 



young miss is reciting for a visitor who is 



West 12th Street, he had a special passage- 
way made so that horses might be led easily 
into his studio. 

Professional art critics of the period were 
not enthusiastic about Rogers Groups, prob- 
ably because they did not conform to Greek 
or Roman classic standards; possibly be- 
cause they, the critics, were not needed to 
interpret the statuettes to the public. But 
Rogers had no patience with the kind of 
sculpture which would show American 
heroes in togas and flowing robes. He was 
interested in simple rather than epic situa- 
tions. He was the first to carve the iris of the 
eye and eliminate that blank staring effect 
of the round eyeball. 

Of course he had some imitators who 
hoped to profit by the vogue he had started. 
But their work lacked perfection in both 
original and copies, and even an amateur 
collector can tell a Rogers Group at a glance. 

Rogers exhibited his groups at the Paris 
Exposition in 1867; at the Columbian Expo- 
sition at Chicago in 1893 and at the National 
Academy of Design in New York annually 
from 1860 to 1892. He was made a member 
of the National Academy in 1863. His groups 
won many awards but his chief reward was 
in seeing them exhibited in the homes of his 
contemporaries for nearly forty years. Com- 
plimentary letters came from such prominent 
persons as Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ward 
Beecher, Edwin M. Stanton, William Cullen 
Bryant. 

In 1890, he was afflicted with palsy which 
made it difficult for him to work. His last 
group was made for the World's Fair in 
1893. Called "The Watch on the Santa 
Maria," it portrayed that dramatic moment 
when land was sighted by the sailors of 
Columbus' caravel. 

John Rogers died at his home in New 
Canaan in 1904. Few artists have had, dur- 
ing their lifetimes, such recognition. 



probably a member of the school board. The 
teacher is anxious about the performance of 
her pupil. 

MARCH 

The Referee (1880). Two young ladies 
standing back-to-back are being measured 
by an old gentleman in an effort to deter- 
mine which is the taller. There seems to be 
little difference between them until it is ob- 
served that one of the girls is standing on 
tip-toe. 

APRIL 

Neighboring Pews (1884). Two ladies have 
arrived late at church. A young man in a 
neighboring pew leans forward to help the 
good-looking young lady find her place in 
the hymnal. The old lady scowls at the pref- 



erence being shown. A young lad in the frontl 
seat tries on his father's gloves and high hat,/ 

MAY 

School Days (1877). The principal figure isl 
a man with a hand-organ. In front of him| 
stand two children — a boy and a girl. The I 
girl is intently watching some miniature I 
figures in the front of the organ. The boy is I 
puzzled as to how to recover his hat which | 
has been snatched by the monkey. 

JUNE 
Coming to the Parson (1870). This is I 
known to be by far the most popular group. | 
It is estimated that 5,000 copies were sold, I 
usually for wedding gifts. It depicts a young I 
couple appearing before the parson to have I 
the marriage ceremony performed. The I 
parson looked up from a newspaper entitled I 
"The Union." Foreshadowing the future, 
possibly, a cat and a dog show hostilities I 
toward each other. 

JULY 

Checkers up at the Farm (1875). A very I 
attractive group, second only to "Coming to I 
the Parson" in popularity. A farm boy, 
seated on an upturned basket, is playing I 
checkers with a visitor from the city. He I 
points with glee at the move which defeats I 
his opponent. The visitor remains good- 
natured but is puzzled as to just how he was I 
beaten. The city man's wife looks on. The I 
child in her arms is about to kick one of the | 
kings off the board. 

AUGUST 
We Boys (1872). The horse is standing i 
brook. The boy on the horse's back has 
dropped the reins and is trying to regain 
them with the stick in his hand. The horse is 
frightened by this as well as by another boy 
who is trying to climb upon the horse's back. 

SEPTEMBER 
The Favored Scholar (1873). The young I 
man school-teacher is explaining a sum on a 
slate to a young girl at his side. It isobv 
that there is some personal "interest. A boy 
sitting on a bench out of sight of the teacher 
tries to distract the girl by putting wood- 
shaving curls on his ears. 

OCTOBER 
The Peddler at the Fair (1878). The 
jewelry peddler sits on a worn-out old horse. 
From the peddler's hat hang necklaces. On 
the saddle is a box of trinkets. A young 
woman holds a necklace in her hand and 
entreats her male companion to purchase it. 
He rather sulkily puts his hand in his pocket 
to get the necessary money. 

NOVEMBER 
The Tap on the Window (1874). A young 
man in the act of proposing to the lady of his 
choice has apparently been spied upon. For, 
at the critical moment, a tap on the window 
disturbs him. 

DECEMBER 
Country Post Office (1864). The cobbler, 
who is also postmaster, has just opened a 
sack of mail. He holds a letter in his hand 
and pretends to have great difficulty in 
making out the name of the person to whom 
it is intended. The young lady, however, has 
long since recognized the handwriting and 
reaches impatiently for the letter. 



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The Travelers 

^—1939 Calendar w^ 
of JOHN 'ROGERS QROUPS 




oT A typical advertisement such as John Rogers Y. 
*/l used in periodicals oj the /Sjo's and zSSo's. Jy"*" 



^ 



By David Bourdon 



An intimate regard 
for everyday life 
made a homely art 



John Rogers, 19th-century people's artist 
once almost a part of many good homes, 
is now rediscovered and eagerly collected 




Coming to the Parson is typical of the storytelling 
content of much of Rogers' affectionate work. 



For nearly three decades in the 19th century, John 
Rogers was a household name, renowned for his plas- 
ter statuettes which adorned middle-class parlors all 
over the country. His specialty was a type of storytell- 
ing sculpture, containing human figures, known as 
Rogers' Groups. In many ways he was the counterpart 
to Currier & Ives, the immensely successful New York 
firm of printmakers, who suffused most of the Ameri- 
can print market with inexpensive lithographs. Like 
Currier & Ives, Rogers stressed mostly the happier 
aspects of American life in an attempt to make his 
work more appealing to the widest possible audience. 

Rogers excelled at modeling domestic and rural 
scenes (young couples courting, old folks playing 
chess), all rendered in a naturalistic style that over- 
looked no homely detail. His special gift was for cap- 
turing the quintessential poses and expressions of 
specific types of people— soldiers, slaves, doctors, 
preachers, peddlers, grandmothers and country belles. 

Rogers' subject matter sets him apart from most 
other American sculptors of his time. Moreover, he 
made his sculpture in a way that seems more appropri- 
ate to the 20th century: He mass-produced his work 
by "publishing" large editions in cheap plaster. 



Rogers was a strong abolitionist. His Slave Auction, 

now a rare work, did not sell well at $5 a 

copy because it was considered too controversial. 



Between 1860 and 1893 Americans bought about 
80,000 Rogers' Groups at an average price of $14. The 
sculptor preferred "to put them at a price that no one 
who likes them need hesitate to buy." The Groups 
were ideal gifts for almost any occasion. One Group, 
called Weighing the Baby, was the inevitable choice 
for new parents. Another Group, Coming to the Par- 
son (above), was so popular as a wedding gift that 
about 8,000 copies were sold, accounting for one-tenth 
of Rogers' total production. 

Everything about John Rogers, the man, indicates 
he was the personification of old-time American vir- 
tue: honest, thrifty, hard-working and enterprising. 
He was in life what most men are only in their obitu- 
aries: a dutiful son, a dear brother and a loving father 
of seven children. 

He attained maturity as an artist during a period 
that is not prized today for many of its esthetic inven- 
tions. It was an era in which artists did not feel they 
had to be innovative for innovation's sake, and so 
most painters and sculptors were quite content to 
make decorative objects that in no way jarred their 
audience. To most of them the concept of avant-garde 
art would have been as remote as Mt. McKinley. 
Rogers, who belonged to the mainstream of American 
society, wanted to please his public with works that 
expressed simple sentiments in a forthright way, fre- 
quently with a dash of humor, sometimes with a touch 
of pathos. 

Rogers' Groups celebrate the simple pleasures and 



Color photographs by Yale Joel 



51 



Sculptor of and for the people 



pastimes of 19th-century American life in a style that 
is his own. 

Although his father made a decent salary at the rail- 
road company in Salem, Massachusetts, where Rogers 
was born in 1829, he apparently could not afford to 
put young John through Harvard, where so many 
men of the Rogers family had studied. Instead, Rogers 
went to the English High School, which trained young 
men for a life in commerce. One of his teachers, how- 
ever, taught him to draw, and that awakened his in- 
terest in art. 

At 16 Rogers took a clerical job, which paid an an- 
nual wage of $50, in a Boston dry goods store. Then 
he took a better-paid position as a surveyor's assistant 
with the Boston Water Works. 

In Boston, Rogers visited Horticultural Hall and 
paid 25 cents to see Hiram Powers' celebrated marble 
sculpture The Greek Slave (Smithsonian, November 
1972), then making a tour of several American cities. 
About a dozen years later he asserted that The Greek 
Slave's fame was due entirely to her chains. "The 
chain showed that she was a slave and the whole story 
was told at once. There are plenty of figures as grace- 
ful as that and it is only the effect of the chain that has 
made it so popular." The remark is illuminating be- 
cause it helps explain why Rogers, in his own work, 
placed so much importance on storytelling accessories. 

In 1848, during a visit to a Boston friend, he was 
shown a clay figure that the friend had modeled. Rog- 
ers was inspired to do the same, so he bought some clay 
and set to work. "I was quite successful," Rogers re- 
called later. "I would have been glad to take this up 
as a business," he continued, "but my relatives thought 
it offered a poor support, and favored another 

David Bourdon, a former Associate Editor of 
Smithsonian, is now art critic for the Village Voice. 




In 1864, at height of Civil War, Wounded Scout 
depicted escaped slave aiding Union casualty. 



offer which I had for a position in a machine shop." 
The machine-shop job was with Amoskeag, the 
huge complex of bustling mills in Manchester, New 
Hampshire. Rogers spent about six years there. 

When he was 28, Rogers left the mills. He found a 
job as master mechanic on the Hannibal and St. Jo- 
seph Rail Road, and in 1856 made the thousand-mile 
railroad journey from Boston to Hannibal, Missouri. 
The town seemed scarcely civilized. "Unless they im- 
port some Yankees," he declared, "I'm afraid they will 
never make much of a place of Hannibal." 

Rogers lost his job during the money panic of 1857, 
when the railroad closed down its machine shop. He 
returned to Massachusetts with a renewed determina- 
tion to become a sculptor. With his own savings, the 
financial backing of an aunt and uncle and the reluc- 
tant approval of his family, Rogers sailed for Paris in 
the fall of 1858 to acquire the technical training nec- 
essary to an aspiring sculptor. 



52 




Gamesmanship, as it was employed in an earlier time, 
furnished the gentle sculptor with innocent scene. 



By April 1859, after less than a year in Paris and 
Rome, and unimpressed by what he saw, Rogers was 
back home in Roxbury. After five more months there, 
during which he was unable to find employment, he 
went job-hunting all the way to Chicago, where he 
finally found a job as a draftsman in the city surveyor's 
office. In Chicago, Rogers was invited by some women 
in his church to produce a statuette that could be 
raffled off at a charity bazaar. He modeled a clay sculp- 
ture portraying two men playing checkers. His checker 
players attracted considerable attention and were 
raffled off for the whopping sum of $75. The most en- 



couraging thing about all this was that two or three 
disappointed ticket-holders inquired about buying 
other pieces of sculpture. The success and attention 
were enough to give Rogers heady visions of fulfill- 
ment, fame and profit. 

He immediately went to work on two more subjects, 
one of which was a slave auction. 

Of The Auctioneer, Rogers wrote: "I have rather 
idealized and made such a wicked face that Old Nick 
himself might be proud of it— two little quirks of hair 
give some impression of horns. The woman will be 
more nearly white and she and the children will come 



53 



Sculptor of and for the people 



in very gracefully. I am entirely satisfied to stake my 
reputation on it and imagine the present excitement 
on the subject will give it great popularity." 

He intended to produce the sculptured group in a 
large edition to assure profit and popularity. "My plan 
is to get subscribers for it here and then take it to New 
York and get it cast. I shall then send copies to all the 
large cities and dispose of them at fair prices so as to 
become known and have them popular." 

Declaring that he was going to make a "perfect 
balloon" of himself, the 30-year-old ex-draftsman set 
off for New York, where "promising artists," then as 
now, are sometimes rewarded. 

From the very start of his career in New York, Rog- 
ers displayed real flair for imaginative merchandising. 
To make his Slave Auction (p. 50) more appealing, he 
hired a black man to go about on the streets, hawking 
the group. Rogers' black agent had scarcely started on 
his rounds when he had the good fortune to cross the 
path of an important abolitionist, Lewis Tappan, who 
not only bought a Slave Auction on the spot, but also 
gave the startled vendor a list of prospects. 

Despite considerable enthusiasm in abolitionist cir- 
cles, Slave Auction did not prove to be very popular. 
It "tells such a strong story," Rogers lamented, that no 
store would stock it "for fear of offending their South- 
ern customers." Only 30 or so copies were sold, and 
surviving casts are rare today. 

His next subject, a new version of Checker Players, 
was calculated to offend no one. A fancy goods store 
on Broadway stocked it and put a retail price of $5 on 
it. The store people expressed interest in selling more 
works by Rogers, but tried to talk him out of making 
realistic genre groups in "cheap" materials. Rogers in- 
sisted that his works were "not intended for rich peo- 
ple's parlors, but for the more common houses in the 
country. ... As I want them popular, they must be put 



low or else nobody but the rich will buy them and 
they would not want them in their parlors. . . . Large 
sales and small profits is the motto I must stick to." 

The Civil War provided Rogers with a whole new 
range of topical subjects and stimulated his imagina- 
tion to make some of his finest work. One of his most 
eloquent and powerful subjects, Wounded Scout (p. 
52) of 1864, shows an escaped slave helping an injured 
Union scout through a swamp. 

By 1864, when he was 35 years old, John Rogers had 
reason to be satisfied with what he had accomplished 
since turning professional five years earlier. His work 
was increasingly sought after by the public, he was, on 
occasion, a critical success and he married happily. 

James Jackson Jarves, probably the most discerning 
art critic of the time, was definitely in favor of Rogers' 
Groups: "Although diminutive, they possess real ele- 
ments of greatness. In their execution, there is no 
littleness, artifice or affectation. . . . His is not a high 
art, but it is genuine art of a high naturalistic order, 
based on true feeling and a right appreciation of hu- 
manity. It is healthful work, and endears itself by its 
mute speech to all classes." 

The first group that Rogers designed after his mar- 
riage in 1 865 to Harriet Moore Francis, a young New 




A Southern woman reluctantly pledging allegiance to 
the Union— one of Rogers' most popular pieces. 



54 



York music teacher, was inspired by a story told to him 
by his wife's uncle. It portrays a Southern woman, re- 
luctantly pledging allegiance to the Union in order to 
get food for herself and her son. Having made his ini- 
tial sketch for Taking the Oath (opposite) in Septem- 
ber, Rogers worked hurriedly to have the group ready 
for the Christmas holidays. He sold more than 300 
copies that season, and Taking the Oath retained its 
popularity for many years afterward. 

Between 1859 and 1893 Rogers produced a total of 
about 90 groups, in addition to numerous portrait 




The hurdy-gurdy man, a monkey and entranced 
children constitute, what else?, School Days. 



busts, garden figures, decorative vases and flower 
boxes. He frequently pressed his wife and children 
into service as models. His wife and two-year-old son 
David Francis posed for the mother and child in The 
Sitter, one of a pair of statuettes intended to be placed 
at opposite ends of a mantlepiece or table. (The sec- 
ond part shows The Photographer, adjusting his 
camera with one hand and holding the articulated 
stick figure of a soldier in the other.) Two more Rogers 
children, Katherine and Charles, posed for the en- 
thralled children being entertained by the hurdy- 




Believed to be a self-portrait, Traveling Magician 
models Rogers' arched eyebrows, aquiline nose. 



gurdy player in School Days (left). Katherine also 
posed for the dozing assistant with the tambourine in 
Traveling Magician (above). The magician himself 
may be a self-portrait, since he has, in addition to the 
requisite arched eyebrows and Mephistophelian curls, 
an aquiline nose that was unmistakably similar to 
Rogers' own. 

Throughout his career Rogers proved himself to be 
a remarkably resourceful salesman. He advertised 
widely, of course, and often exchanged his groups for 
free advertising space in newspapers and magazines. 
He distributed illustrated catalogs of his wares. He 
also marketed or licensed photographic reproductions 
of the groups in the form of album photographs, ster- 
eopticon views and magic lantern slides. His thriving 
enterprise reached its zenith in the mid- 1880s, during 
which his luxurious Union Square showroom became 
one of the city's most pleasant attractions. 

Suddenly, in the late 1880s, Rogers' business 
dropped off sharply. The decline was partly due to a 
plunge in the economy which eventually became the 
financial panic of 1893. But the chief reason for the 
decline was a change in the public's taste. Rogers' 
Groups suddenly appeared naive and unsophisticated 
to the younger, more urbane generation, who ushered 



55 



in what became known as the gilded age. Along with 
wax flowers, haircloth furniture and other Victorian- 
type furnishings, Rogers' Groups were banished from 
fashionable parlors. 

Coinciding with his waning popularity, Rogers' 
health began to fail in about 1891. The ailment start- 
ed out in his right hand, as a slight tremor that did not 
respond to treatment. Eventually the tremor disabled 
him to such an extent that he was no longer able to 
model any sculpture. In 1893 he sold all his rights in 
the groups to the foreman of his plaster shop, and the 
business folded soon after. By the time Rogers retired 
to New Canaan, Connecticut, a couple of years later, 
his body was nearly doubled over. Almost mercifully, 
bronchial pneumonia set in and served as the coup de 
grace in July 1904. 

Rogers' reputation was all but totally eclipsed for 
several decades. But a new audience for his work 
began to grow and, in 1967, the sculptor was made in- 
tellectually respectable by the publication of David 



H. Wallace's John Rogers, The People's Sculptor 
(Wesleyan University Press), a comprehensive study of 
Rogers that is both scholarly and readable. 

One of John Rogers' heirs, a 29-year-old great- 
grandson who is also named John Rogers, spearheads 
the current revival. The present-day John Rogers, who 
works as a new products analyst with U.S. Plywood, 
inherited a lot of family memorabilia. Since he was 
living in New Canaan, he decided he'd personally re- 
store his ancestor's old studio, which is now main- 
tained by the New Canaan Historical Society. Begin- 
ning in the fall of 1969, he spent most of his spare time 
completely refurbishing the place. While working in 
the studio in 1970, he was approached by two enthu- 
siasts who persuaded him to head up a group of 
Rogers' Groups collectors. 

Members own 1,800 of the 2,500 surviving Rogers' 
Groups that have been accounted for. Rogers' Groups 
are still highly collectible, though they turn up on 
the market ever less frequently, and seldom in mint 



* , 






* 



.) 



1 ^ ■ 



Live Rogers group shows the father of seven, 

with two yet to come, when photo was taken in 1876. 

Namesake and great-grandson, John Rogers, speaks 
at a current meeting of collectors, The Rogers Group. 



56 




condition. The most common Rogers' Groups sell in 
the $300 to $700 range, but scarce pieces will bring 
$1,000 and up. More than 40 copies each are known to 
exist of Taking the Oath and Coming to the Parson, 
while surviving casts of Slave Auction and Checker 
Players are exceedingly rare. The groups are plenti- 
ful in a great many museums, including the Smithson- 
ian's National Collection of Fine Arts, which possesses 
ten. A copy of Neighboring Pews occupies a promi- 
nent position in the Lincoln Sitting Room of the 
White House (though it was not owned by Lincoln). 
The best and most complete public collection of 
Rogers' Groups, including 38 of the bronze master 
models, is in the New York Historical Society. 

For a few collectors, the Rogers' Groups are not 
enough; they have to collect anything associated with 
Rogers, from lantern slides to personal mementos. For 
instance, Herman and Eleanor Deutsch of East Mead- 
ow, Long Island, own 78 groups (76 in plaster, two in 
bronze). They also possess plaster life masks, made by 



Rogers of his own face and those of his parents. They 
treasure their 14 glass slides, all showing Rogers' 
Groups, which they acquired along with their century- 
old magic lantern. In addition, they keep a fancy 
stereopticon with vintage views of Rogers' Groups. 

Paul and Meta Bleier of Valley Stream, also on 
Long Island, are just seven pieces short of a complete 
collection of Rogers' Groups. They have 78 plasters 
and one bronze. The walls of their living and dining 
rooms are literally covered with Rogers' Groups. They 
have written a useful handbook John Rogers' Groups 
of Statuary, A Pictorial & Annotated Guide for the 
Collector, which they published themselves in 1971. 

Nostalgia plays a part in the John Rogers revival. 
Still, his work speaks more clearly of the American ex- 
perience of his time than that of his contemporaries 
who were part of the academic mainstream. 

Rogers is a unique figure in the history of American 
sculpture. He might be said to comprise entirely by 
himself, a "one-man group." 



'■ 



* i* 






ft <*-^ 






By Les Beitz 



TURRENTLY appearing in 

the advertising columns of 

three nationally circulated 

antiques publications is the 
following: WANTED. Rogers 
Groups. Will pay top prices. 
Write, describing subject, 
condition . . . (and so on). 

What are Rogers Groups? 

Anyone who is familiar with 
the American "genre" paintings 
by Norman Rockwell that were 
featured for years as cover 
subjects on the Saturday 
Evening Post need only translate 
that artist's remarkable social 
documentaries into plaster. For 
John Rogers was, to a couple of 
earlier generations of Americans, 
the social chronicler of the 
masses— only his media was 
parlor sculpture, rather than 
full-color paintings for a leading 
weekly magazine. 

Art his tor ans are generally 
agreed that Rogers didn't 
produce great sculpture, in the 
sense that his works exemplified 
the highest (aesthetic, perhaps?) 
standards of the craft. But all 
acknowledge this: that John 
Rogers captured, as no one else 
had, the customs, emotions, 
habits, follies— the simple drama 
of incidents in the lives of plain 
folk— the story of everyday 
Americans during the "Gilded 
Age." 

A Rogers statuary group is apt 
«to be quite sentimental. It will 
radiate nostalgia. Its theme, of 
course, will be a simple one. No 
caption will be required to 
explain it. All this is because 
John Rogers modeled his works 
to reflect the feelings and 
interests of unsophisticated, 
homey people. 

Art experts notwithstanding, 
John Rogers contributed 
measurably to the lore of 
American Sculpture. The 
"Wanted" ad cited at the outset 
here is but one manifestation 
that his accomplishments have 
come to be recognized as an 
exceptionally important force in 
the folk history of our people. 

John Rogers was born in 1829 
in Salem, Massachusetts. As a 
youngster, his bent was toward 



John Rogers: S 
Story Of The R 



working with his hands-crafting 
things. It seems his nimble 
fingers were particularly adept at 
fashioning things "in the 
round." 

When he undertook the task 
of making a new weathervane to 
replace a sorry one atop a 
neighbor's stable, young Rogers 
was keen to give his trotting doe 
subject dramatic effect from all 
sighting points, rather than 
merely settling for a flat, 
silhouette cut-out of sorts— the 
usual treatment afforded such 
utilitarian objects. His trotting 
dog became, in effect, a clever 
example of sculptured copper. 
His Bowser had character. Here 
is a farm dog (like all good farm 
dogs) that ate well! 

Because of a certain naivete 
that appears to pervade the 
manner, or technique, of much 
of Rogers' work, some art 
biographers have assumed that 
he was entirely self-taught. Not 
necessarily so. 

Research discloses that upon 
completion of elementary 
schooling, Rogers went to work 
as a dry goods clerk in Boston. A 
cloth house proprietor 
recognized his sense of design 
and induced him to make a trip 
to Spain to select fabrics for 
exclusive importation. Upon 
return, Rogers broke away from 
that profession and began the 
study of civil engineering with 
emphasis upon the machinist's 
trade. 

In 18S6 we find him in charge 
of a railroad repair shop at 
Hannibal, Missouri. The foundry 
there produced castings for 
sundry purposes and it was here 
that Rogers began modeling in 
clay. 

He went to Europe again in 
1858, returned the following 
year to Chicago and entered a 
surveyor's office as 
draughtsman. 

The significant thing about 
this is that Rogers had, during 
the stay in Europe, been 
exposed to sculptors— real, live 
sculptors— in action! There were 
dozens of "ateliers" in operation 
throughout France and Germany 
during that time and Rogers 



certainly wasn't the type to be 
merely an idle onlooker. Hence, 
upon return home, his quick 
movement into the realm of 
drafting, an essential in the 
exacting mechanics of producing 
effective sculpture. 

That same year, 1859, he 
came up with his first statuary 
work to be cast for sale. It was 
titled 'The Slave Auction," 
sometimes referred to as "Uncle 
Tom's Cabin ... in plaster." 
Rogers placed it on exhibition in 
New York. Contemporary 
accounts say it was "well 
received." Encouraging, but not 
too many sales. 

Later that same year he 
modelled the piece that 
catapulted him to sudden 
fame— a wonderful group titled 
"Checker Players," which he 
exhibited at the Cosmopolitan 
Bazaar in Chicago. Hundreds of 
viewers expressed desires to own 
a copy of this delightful 
conversation piece. 

The enthusiastic acclaim of 
admiring crowds at the Bazaar 
convinced Rogers that he had 
"clicked." The rest was to be 
pretty much a foregone 
conclusion because John Rogers 
was, in addition to his capacity 
as an extremely competent 
craftsman, a mighty sharp 
merchandiser. 

So in 1860, Rogers went into 
the business of producing parlor 
statuary in a big way. With 
inspiration and zest, he created 
two more realistic subjects that 
were heavily slanted toward 
touching the heartstrings of 
ordinary folks everywhere— 'The 
Village Schoolmaster," and "The 
Fairy's Whisper." They sold like 
hotcakes. 

Fired with avid dedication 
now, Rogers embarked upon a 
career that was to span more 
than thirty years and bring 
about the creation of eighty 
different published groups. 
Here's how he worked: 

With meticulous care, he 
modeled his original subject in 
clay. Then he supervised the 
process of preparing a mold 
from it in order to effect the 
casting of a replica in bronze. 



culptor--The 
ogers Groups 



Photos Courtesy of the Herschel C. Logan Collection 



This was the master unit from 
which his workmen made other 
molds to mass produce the final 
product in a sort of hard plaster 
formula. 

After emergence from the 
mold, the piece was covered 
with an oil-based paint, usually a 
tan putty color or smoky gray. 
A few were finished off in a 
somewhat brownish tone, to 
simulate granite. They were 
beautiful! 

And the selling end of it was 
easy. Display advertising in 
national magazines did the trick, 
simply because newspapers of 
the time heralded each new 
emission from his studio as a 
significant event. The groups had 
price tags of from $15 to $25, 
depending upon the intricacy 
(and consequent casting 
expense) of the particular 
subject. Each creation was 
patented. 

By 1865, in high gear now, 
Rogers had twenty-five 
workmen turning out hundreds 
of plaster reproductions of each 
new subject he personally 
modelled with his own hands. 
He was "in the chips"— a success 
story in the fullest sense of 
Yankee Ingenuity tradition. 

In certain respects the 
enterprise was a percentage 
game, for some of his statuary 
groups failed to capture the 
public fancy as well as others. 
On some subjects, a hundred or 
so reproductions constituted the 
completed issue. Needless to say, 
these limited editions are 
extremely scarce today. One 
group, 'The Sharpshooters," (a 
soldier subject done in 1860, 
foretelling an episode of the 
impending Civil War), is. one of 
the rarest Rogers 
groups— commands a small 
fortune these days. 

Other themes, notably his 
series of three Rip van Winkle 
anecdotal compositions, sold in 
the thousands. It is estimated 
that in the three decades of 
Rogers' fame, over a million 
dollars worth of statuary groups 
were displayed atop 



'unw iiuwia v^uuiny, 



marble-topped Victorian tables 
from Maine to California. Big 
business for that era, beyond a 
doubt. 

John Rogers had done 
something no other American 
sculptor had even come close to 
doing. He had created and 
developed an appealing line of 
statuary goods that people 
everywhere could understand, 
could appreciate, could afford to 
buy. And they did buy, to place 
in their very own homes. In 
bringing about this phenomenal 
end result, John Rogers was 
truly unique. 

By 1892, however, Rogers' 
star had dimmed. With other 
gaudy elements of late Victorian 
decor, his work went out of 
vogue and he was forgotten. 
Thousands of his intriguing 
creations, superb examples of 
one of our most distinctive 
Americana art forms, were 
carelessly stored away, broken, 
discarded. 

Surviving examples of Rogers 
groups occasionally come to 
light from the lofty attics of 
Victorian mansions along Main 
Street of once flourishing 
communities throughout the 
country. No complete collection 
of his eighty subjects exists 
today. The New York Historical 
Society has an outstanding 
showing of them, near complete, 
number seventy-eight works— all 
but two very rare subjects. 
. Every Rogers buff hopes to 
stumble upon "Camp Life, or 
The Card Players," an 1862 
group of which no copy is 
known. It depicts two soldiers 
playing cards on an army drum. 
The other classic rarity is an 
1860 piece called "The Farmer's 
Home." A fortune awaits the 
discoverer of one of these. 

Which brings up the matter of 
value, the so-called going prices 
on Rogers groups. Here is an 
excellent example of how wrong 
the "book" can be. Two popular 
Antiques Handbooks (pricing 
guides, really, that list, describe 
and assign a fair market value to 
thousands of items of collector 

wnicn mcluded separate lectures 



interest) show Rogers groups to 
be in the $60-$ 120 range. A 
couple of exceptionally rare 
subjects hit the $150 mark. 
These prices are just about 1 00% 
off target. 

Scan over most any antiques 
publication these days and you'll 
find knowledgeable dealers 
advertising to the effect that 
they'll BUY Rogers groups at 
prices quoted in established 
pricing guides. This means that 
when a dealer secures a group at 
the "recognized" price, tacks on 
his usual mark-up, pays for his 
advertising both to acquire 
more, and to sell the ones he 
has— well, the going rate is now 
TWICE the handbook quote. 

So the general rule of thumb 
on Rogers prices is: $100 plus, 
for a relatively popular subject 
and up to $350 for "Mail Day," 
a scarce one. All this, of course, 
is contingent upon that 
all-important factor governing 
antiques values in 
general . . . sound condition. 

It goes without saying, plaster 
statuary that has survived a 
hundred years or more, still in 
near perfect condition, calls for 
some bonus dollars when the 
dickering gets under way. 

John Rogers closed his New 
York studio in early 1893 and 
retired to his fine residence at 
New Canaan, Connecticut. He 
turned his attention to the 
preparation of anatomical 
portfolios in the interest of art, 
and busied himself with making 
garden and lawn statuary for the 
spacious grounds of his estate. 

He was under no 
disallusionment. He was 
well-to-do, contented in the 
afterglow of the achievements 
he's scored during that 
remarkable professional career, 
and he was happy in his role as 
host at social activities with 
family and friends athome. He 
died there in 1904. 

John Rogers left his mark on 
America. He had made his 
statuary "performers" give 
pleasure to a wide audience; had 
made a good living at it, too. 

her efforts in the field of historic 



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Rogers Groups Now Sought 

by Collectors of Antiques 

Popular Statuettes of Post Civil War Fame Find Their 
Way Into Museums at Last 



Salem, Mass. 
Special Correspondence 

EOGERS' group models or statu- 
ettes, of which about 100,000 
were distributed over the 
United States in the period immedi- 
ately following the Civil War, are 
now being collected as antiquities. 
Second-hand dealers five years ago 
would gladly accept $1 to get rid of 
one of the statuettes; today they are 
said to be brihging from $15 to $20, if 
in good condition. The task of gath- 
ering a complete set is being under- 
taken under the direction of officials 
of the Essex Institute of Salem and 
the Society for the Preservation of 
New England Antiquities in Boston. 
The Essex Institute has already a 
collection of about 50, said to be the 
largest in the country. Some of the 
original working models in bronie 
are now on exhibition in the Metro- 
politan Museum of Art in New York 
and some in the Brooklyn Museum. 

John Rogers was born in Salem in 
October, 1839, and received his edu- 
cation in the public schools of Bos- 
ton. He was obliged to go to work 
while still young in a dry goods 
store and later in a machine shop. 
Through a happy chance, however, 
he was enabled to spend the year 
1858 59 in Europe in study and on 
his return he went to Chicago, where 
he modeled for a charity fair his 
first and one of his best groups, 
"Checkers Up at the Farm." 

This statuette represents a famil- 
iar New England scene, with the city 
visitor at the home of the farmer. 
After the enjoyment and work of the 
day, a game of checkers Is pro- 
posed. In spite of all his ingenuity the 
city visitor has at last been forced 
by the clever Yankee into a position | 
where he cannot "move" without j 
being "taken." The face of the j 
farmer expresses a simple childish 
joy at triumph over the rich and 
cultured city man. The accessories 
are true to life: the checkerboard 
rests on a flour barrel, the farmer 
sits on a bushel basket. The face and 
attitude of the city man represent 
deep study, but his surprise and 
amusement at being defeated is quite 
apparent. In the background there 
;are the wife and child of the city 
visitor, the former studies the board 
in surprise, while the child tries to 
kick the. checkers off the board. 



Gelatine Moulds Aid 

It was about ' this time when 
Rogers completed his first work, that 
gelatine moulds were invented, and 
the casting in these moulds was 
carried forward to such perfection as 
to enable the sculptor to reproduce 
his work accurately and with little 
cost. He started in a small way with 
one Italian worKmgiu-<- - ' . . . . . — &, 



which was exhibited in the Boston 
Museum of Fine Arts, was "John 
Eliot and the Indian." 

Among his groups and single 
statuettes were several portraits, 
notably those of Beecher, Washing- 
ton, Lincoln and Grant. There was 
also a series for which Joe Jefferson, 
the actor, posed in various r61es. 

Rogers was on a friendly footing 
with some of the great men of his 
rjice. Jeffersc.-: -fraks of him with 
the greatest enthusiasm. He knew 
Grant, Lincoln and Stanton, and 
made a group study of these three J 
men. It was declared one of the, 
best portrait groups that Rogers ere- 1 
ated, and one of the most interesting 
from, an historical point of view. 



"The Football Players," one of his 
last works, exhibits the same warm 
ifeeling that is shown in his initial 
effort. The group includes four men. 
The ball has been passed to the 
halfback, who is trying, with shut 
jaw and compressed brow, to break 
through the opposing line, but un- 
fortunately for him he has been 
"tackled" around the waist by a man 
whose hold he tries to break by 
pushing his head down, at the same 
time trying to escape from' the 
j clutches of another player who has 
caught him' about the shoulders. 
Realizing that he cannot get away 
with the ball, he is passing it to a 
confederate who will carry it to the 
goal. ,. 

Contemporary Estimates 

From the creation of the "first 
group to the last, Rogers produced 
about fifty subjects. Their popularity 
was extraordinary. The Art Arena, 
referring to Rogers' work' during 
the height of his popularity, said: - 
'"We now come to a high order of 
ability; indeed, we may call It genius 
in its peculiar province, as original 
as it is varied and graphic, pure in 
sentiment, clever in execution, and 
thoroughly American in the best 
sense of the word, in everything. We 
know of no sculptor - like John.' 
Rogers of New York in the Old'; 
World, and he stand's alone In his i 
chosen field, heretofore appropriated ' 
by painting, a genuine production of 
our soil, enlivening the fancy, 
kindling patriotism, and warming the 
affections of his lovely and well bal- 1 
anced groups in plaster and bronze. 
They possess real elements of great^j 

uess, and in their execution there is 
no littleness, artifice or affectation. 
The handling is masterly, betraying 
a knowledge of anatomy and design 
not common, and a thoroughness of 
work refreshing to note." 
James. Jackson Janes writing in 

. _V. - ' 



the Art Idea said of Rogers that "his 
pathos, nai'vet6 and simplicity of i/io- 1 
tive increase with his subjects, and 
give even to the commonplace almost 
the dignity of the heroic. The chief 
feature of his art is his power of 
human expression, bestowing upon 
plastic material a capacity and 
variety of soul action which,. accord- 
ing to the canons of some critics, it 
wan useless for sculpture to attempt. 
But he has been successful In this 
respect and inaugurated a new tri- 
umph in his department. He is a 
master of those motives which help 
to unite mankind into one common 
feeling of brotherhood." 

A later critic, William H., Good- 
year in his "Renaissance and Modern 
Art," commended the heroic statue 
of Lincoln exhibited by Rogers at the 
Columbian Exposition as a "serious 
and important work of the first' 
class," but he criticized the small 
groups, stating that he considered 
them concessions to popular tastes, 
adding, however, that it is useless to 
criticize an artist in such matters, 
where only the public is to blame. 

,Many other critics of his day con- 
sidered that Rogers' fame rested on 
his large works, such as the statue of 
Lincoln and that of General Rey- 
nolds. Another, of his heroic groups. 



"ROGERS GROUPS" 

SOME time in November we expect to publish a 
book that should immediately take its place as 
the foremost, indeed, as far as we know, the only 
work of its kind in an interesting field. The book will 
be Rogers Groups: 'Thought and Wrought by 'John 
Rogers. It you don't know the "Rogers Groups," 
where have you been the last hundred years? 
" Rogers Groups," say the authors of this new book, 
"show the history of the last half of the nineteenth 
century in Ainerica by sculpture, much as the Currier 
and Ives prints do by pictorial art." The authors are 
Mr. and Mrs. Chetwood Smith, and their book is 
authorized by Miss Katherine Rebecca Rogers, 
daughter of the creator of the "Rogers Groups." 
There will be a full descriptive checklist and many 
illustrations. Further details will be forthcoming. 
Meanwhile you might want to signify your interest, 
especially if you are going to want the special limited 
edition. 

69 




i^&.v.,^;,-., ., 



Among the many items 
evoking the past life ? 
of New York City in 
the remodeled building ■'• 
of the New York His,. J 
torical Society is the | 
sculpture of John 
Rogers, which enjoyed ' 
a great vogue during 
the last part of the 
nineteenth .century. 
Three of these pieces 
are shown here. An 
article on the new mu- 
seum appears in the 
Travel Section of to- 
day's New York Times. 



/c-*- 



i 

"The First Ride. 



SCULPTURE 







"I 



A bronze plaque of the fa- 
mous cowboy humorist, Will 
Rogers, made by Electra 
Waggoner for Amon G. 
Carter of Fort Worth, and 
included in a show by Miss 
Waggoner in Los Angeles. 




THE FAMOUS ROGERS GROUPS 

A Complete Check-list and Collectors' Manual 

by 
VREST ORTON 




Privately Printed 

Illustrated with Wood Engravings from 

Rogers Catalog 



Group #30. THE FOUNDLING 




(For description of this Group, see page 19) 



Copyright, 1960, by Vrest Orton, Weston, Vermont 



THE STATUE IN THE PARLOR 



Sculpture is, of course, one of the oldest arts. From prim- 
itive clay daubs down to the classic refinements of the Greeks, 
man has expressed his most noble aspirations in the round. But 
of the thousands and thousands of sculptors over centuries, 
one, John Rogers, born in 1829 in Salem, Massachusetts, was 
unique. Whilst others created statues for salon exhibits, for the 
rarefied air of museums or in heroic size for city squares, John 
Rogers, a self-taught artist who lived most of his life in New 
Canaan, Connecticut, succeeded in making sculpture popular. 
He was the only man in the long history of the art who was 
able to place a piece of sculpture in the average home. 

John Rogers produced the first of his statuary figures 
(known as Rogers Groups) in 1859. By the seventies, and 
certainly all through the eighties the high class and even mid- 
dle class home that did not display, on the oval, marble-topped 
parlor table, one of these homey pieces of sculpture was simply 
out of the swim. Not only were Rogers Groups considered the 
thing to have and surely the most stylish factor in the Victorian 
decor, but actually they served as marvelously inventive con- 
versation pieces. 

Why was this so? Well, because they told, most of them, 
a simple story. And the story they told was a warm, irresistible 
fascinating story that the average family readily understood 
and had sentimental feelings for. In short the Rogers Groups 
were, in a manner of speaking, Norman Rockwell Saturday 
Evening Post covers in sculpture. No caption was needed to 
explain them, just as Rockwell's Post covers need no explan- 
ation. 

Since Rogers decided early that he would not imitate 
Greek and Roman classic work but would try to represent the 
feelings and interests of the common every day person, he was 
able to capture, as no other American ever did, the customs, 
habits, emotions, dramas and comedies of the normal family. 
Sentimental, of course. Nostalgic, of course. Simple, of course. 
But what is wrong with that? 



(3) 



From the first Rogers Group modeled in 1859, called the 
"Checker Players", showing two men playing the then national 
game in the country store, down through the evocative render- 
ings of Civil War topics and finally, the habits, customs and 
dress of the American small village or rural family, Rogers 
touched the vibrant heartstrings of the American people as no 
other sculptor ever did. And he not only touched them, but he 
was able to place in their very own homes an object that con- 
tinued to touch them. In this he was truly unique. 

It is not easy today, with our complex amusements and 
sophisticated divertisements, to understand just how deeply 
and enthusiastically popular the Rogers Groups were in their 
day. No one who could afford the $15.00 to $25.00 price tag 
failed to send a Rogers Group as a wedding gift or a presenta- 
tion for any great occasion. Even entertainments in the form 
of tableaux with living figures acting out the Groups were at- 
tempted in many homes. They were also a favorite subject of 
stereopticon pictures and magic lantern slides. Newspapers 
greeted each new Rogers creation as a major event. 

Between 1860 and 1893 John Rogers created eighty differ- 
ent published Groups. Each was patented and in his New 
York studio he had some 25 workmen turning out hundreds of 
plaster reproductions. Of some subjects they cast and sold a 
hundred; of some thousands. In the 30 years of Rogers' fame, 
he sold over a million dollars worth of sculpture : a lot of money 
for art work in those days or any days. 

After modeling one original in clay with his own hands, 
Rogers had a bronze model made of most of the groups except 
the first four or five. From these permanent bronzes (now in 
The N. Y. Historical Society) his workmen made molds from 
which they cast the saleable figures. Each group was cast in 
plaster, then covered with an oil paint usually tan putty color 
(so not to show the dust) but sometimes darker brown, some- 
times lighter gray. Many of these Groups such as the Shakes- 
pearianseries display an amazingly intricate form of superb 
casting. The Groups were sold widely by a series of illustrated 
catalogs issued by Rogers and by display advertising in na- 
tional magazines. 



(4) 



Mr. Rogers lived on until 1904 but before the 1890's were 
over his work went out of style and he was forgotten. With the 
other gaudy elements of late Victorian decor, hundreds of 
Groups were broken, discarded or stored away in attics. 




(For description of this Group, see page 17) 

Today, and especially in the last three or four years, we are 
beginning to appreciate these important works of highly skill- 
ful craftsmanship perhaps with even a deeper sense than did 
our fathers and grandfathers. Today we realize that no one 
else has, in sculpture, expressed with such delightful sentiment 
and meticulous care, American social history of the last half of 
the 19th century. 

Museums are beginning to collect Rogers Groups. The 
largest and best collection, consisting of all but two of the 80 
designs, is on public exhibit at the New York Historical 
Society on Central Park West, in New York City, under the 
care of Robert W. G. Vail. Another good collection is at the 
Essex Institute at Salem, Massachusetts, Rogers' birthplace; 
another at Manchester, N. H. where Rogers once lived. Several 



(5) 



private collectors are collecting these interesting Groups. A 
noteworthy collection is owned by Doctor Grace Burnett. I 
have been assembling my collection for several years. I con- 
sider myself lucky to have been able to obtain some of the 
rarest of all the Groups, the Civil War items which, of course, 
were also the first that Mr. Rogers made. I hope over the 
years to discover more. 

No one pretends that Rogers Groups are great art. But no 
honest critic can deny that they did make, as genre art, an 
important contribution not only to sculpture, but to the folk 
history of our people. While his contemporaries were turning 
out single, noble but wholly derivative classic pieces of Euro- 
pean type sculpture few Americans would ever see, John Rogers 
went the other way and created realistic, straightforward 
renderings of every day people that captured not only the 
public fancy but the public heart. 

I was fortunate enough to acquire through the courtesy of 
The Vermont Historical Society, reproductions of the charm- 
ing wood engravings Mr. Rogers used to illustrate his own 
catalogs. It is these that I am reproducing in this brochure. 

Many of the descriptions of the Groups in the following 
Check-list are in Mr. Rogers own words quoted from his 
catalogs. To some, 1 have added a word or two of my own. For 
information on several I am deeply indebted to David H. 
Wallace of Philadelphia, today's leading authority on Rogers 
and now engaged in doing a definitive book on Rogers and his 
work. Mr. Wallace's book will be published in the near future, 
I trust, so collectors may have not only the wonderful story of 
this remarkable folk sculptor, in great detail, but may also 
have a documented and detailed account of his voluminous 
work. 

For measurements of the groups and other important data, 
I am much indebted to the only existing book on Rogers: an 
excellent volume written by Mr. and Mrs. Chetwood Smith, 
and published by Goodspeed in Boston in 1934. This book, 
long out of print, is unobtainable today. For this reason I am 
issuing this short brochure to serve as a catalog of my own 
collection now on display in the Vermont Country Store. 



(6) 




ITS ^mf^vvuitSPE^': 



1. THE SLAVE AUCTION (1859) 

Height lS x /i inches. Length 9 inches. 

Since this was the first of John Rogers sculpture to be cast 
for sale, it is considered the first Rogers Group. Coming in 
1859, it was referred to as "Uncle Tom's Cabin in plaster." 

2. CHECKER PLAYERS (1860) 

Height 8 x /z inches. Length 9 V2 inches. Depth 7 inches. 

This was actually the piece that started Rogers to fame as 
he exhibited it at the Cosmopolitan Bazaar in Chicago in 1859. 
The sudden and great public acclaim of the admiring crowds 
for this piece of work gave Rogers the idea that he had found 
his forte. As will be seen, years later he issued another Group 
depicting checker players which also became one of the most 
popular of his works. 

3. THE VILLAGE SCHOOLMASTER (1860) 

Height 9% inches. Length 9 inches. Depth 6 inches. 

This group shows three figures in a humorous vein: the 
village schoolmaster, the Parson and an amused bystander. 
The theme was from Goldsmith's "Deserted Village", a poem 
known to every school boy of those days. 

4. THE FAIRY'S WHISPER (1860) 

Height 21 inches. Length 28 inches. 

(7) 



A little child, while seated on a bank, gathering flowers, 
hears a fairy among the fern leaves at his side, whispering in 
his ear, and listens intently to hear what it says to him. The 
figure of the child is life size. 

This was the first of the larger groups and one of the few 
showing a single figure. The delightful modeling of a small 
winged fairy makes it easy to understand why Rogers himself 
said "This is my first attempt at anything ideal." Mr. and 
Mrs. Chetwood Smith in their book on Rogers comment that 
"Rogers never again made a design taken from the realm of 
pure imagination." 

5. THE FARMER'S HOME (1860) 

David Wallace, leading authority today on Rogers, says 
that this wus "medallions after Thorwaldsen's Night and 
Morning." It is rare and no copy is at present known. 

6. THE SHARP SHOOTERS (1860) 

Height 12 inches. Length llYz inches. Depth 7 inches. 

This small Group is the first of several dealing with the 
Civil War. It shows two soldiers hiding behind a stone wall 
with a dummy figure, made of a stuffed coat and hat, being 
held up above the wall as a decoy to attract enemy fire. One of 
the rarest groups. 

7. THE PICKET GUARD (1860) 

Height l^A inches. Length 10 inches. Depth 8 inches. 

Two variants of this Group are known. One with veil on 
the officer's cap is the first state. Later because of danger of 
breakage, the veil was left off. 

This Group shows an officer of the Union Zouaves, with 
a soldier on each side, walking intently toward the picket line. 
The most romantic figure of the first days of the Civil War was 
Colonel Elmer Ellsworth of the famous Zouaves. Ellsworth 
met an untimelyand tragic death early in the war. Probably 
this Group was inspired by Ellsworth's wide reputation. Mr. 
Rogers forbade photographers to take pictures of his groups, 
but he did allow this one to be copied for a lithograph by 



(8) 



Dominique Fabronius, the Belgian artist and it was used as a 
cover design for a piece of music published in Boston in 1864. 

8. THE TOWN PUMP (1862) 

Height IS inches. Length 10 inches. 

A Union Soldier is standing at the old wood pump with a 
cup of water in his hand, talking to a comely girl with a bucket 
on her arm. 




9. CAMP FIRE or MAKING FRIENDS WITH 
THE COOK (1862) 

Height 12 inches. Length 11 inches. Depth 6 'Vi inches. 

The negro cook is opening the cover of a big stew-kettle 
while a young soldier sits on a basket, and is about to sample 
the concoction. This one is so realistic that even the bubbles 
of the soup are shown. 



(9) 



10. CAMP LIFE or THE CARD PLAYERS (1862) 

No copy of this is known. It shows two soldiers in uniform, 
playing cards on an army drum. 

11. THE WOUNDED SCOUT or FRIEND IN 
THE SWAMP (1862) 

Height 28 inches. Length lOVi inches. Depth 8 l /2 inches. 

Published at the time when some Union soldiers had es- 
caped from Libby prison, this shows a wounded Union scout 
who has been shot through the arm, being helped by a slave. 
They are making their way to the slave's home in the swamp. 
A copperhead snake is trying to strike the negro. This is the 
Group Mr. Rogers gave to President Lincoln and received a 
holograph letter of thanks. 

12. TROUT FISHING 

Long listed as a Rogers Group but according to Dr. Wallace 
it is not by Rogers. 

13. UNION REFUGEES (1863) 

Height 22Yi inches. Length 12 inches. Depth lOVi inches. 

This represents a scene in the early part of our civil war. A 
Union family have been driven from their home in the South. 
The father carries all the property they have saved in a bundle 
slung on his gun. The little boy is trying to console his mother 
by giving her flowers. 

Mr. Rogers sister posed for the wife. Mr. Wallace reports 
there are two versions; one showing the wife with long, the 
other with short sleeves. The Group was issued both in plaster 
and zinc bronze. 

14. COUNTRY POSTOFFICE (1863) 

Height 20 inches. Length 14 inches. Depth 10 l /2 inches. 

This is another Civil War subject showing an old cobbler, 
who is also the rural postmaster, trying to read the address 
on a letter the young lady at his side is waiting for. 

(10) 



15. MAIL DAY (1863) 

Height 16 inches. Length 8 indies. Depth 8Yi inches. 

It is the day for the mail to close, and a soldier is puzzling 
his brains so as to complete his letter in time. This design was 
made during our civil war. 

16. RETURNED VOLUNTEER or HOW THE 
FORT WAS TAKEN (1863) 

Height 20 inches. Length 14 l A inches. Depth 11 inches. 

A soldier has built a fortification with some of the black- 
smith's tools, and also an opposing battery with a horseshoe 
and nails, and he is showing the blacksmith how they took the 
fort. Looking on is a little girl about 6 years of age. 




(11) 




17. THE BUSHWHACKER or THE WIFE'S 
APPEAL FOR PEACE (1864) 

Height 22 l A inches. Length llYi inches. Depth 8 inches. 

This group shows a bearded bushwhacker (a guerrilla) being 
importuned by his wife to stop fighting. It was shown first at a 
reception at Mr. Rogers studio at 204 Fifth Avenue, in March, 
1864. 

18. WOUNDED TO THE REAR or ONE MORE 
SHOT (1864) 

Height 2314 inches. Length 9}i inches. Depth 10 inches. 

Two wounded soldiers have been ordered to the rear during 
a battle, but one of them is taking out a cartridge to load up 
again, determined to have one more shot before leaving. 



(12) 



19. THE HOME GUARD or MIDNIGHT ON 
THE BORDER (1865) 

Height 23 inches. Length 8 inches. Depth 7 finches. 

Two females living on the border during the Civil War and 
the only ones left to guard the home as the men are all in one 
army or the other, are suddenly called up by an alarm at mid- 
night. The older one is in the act of cocking a revolver, while 
the other clings to her for protection. 




20. TAKING THE OATH AND DRAWING 
RATIONS (1865) 

Height 23 inches. Length 12 l A inches. Depth 9 l A inches. 

After the war, many Southern families were very much 
reduced and obliged to ask for food from the government ; when 
they did so, they were compelled to take the oath of allegiance. 



(13) 



The group represents a Southern lady, with her little boy, 
compelled by hunger, reluctantly taking the oath of allegiance 
from a Union officer, in order to draw rations. The young 
negro is watching the proceedings, while he waits to have the 
basket filled for his mistress. 

This group was favored by southerners as they considered 
that Rogers had paid a great tribute to southern women in the 
figure of the mother. 

21. UNCLE NED'S SCHOOL (1866). 

Height 20 inches, Length lJ^A. inches. Depth 9 inches. 

An old negro boot-black is keeping school, but one of his 
scholars, a mulatto girl, has asked him a puzzling question, 
while a lazy little boy is mischievously tickling his foot, which 
he feels, but is too much occupied to attend to. 




(14) 



22. THE CHARITY PATIENT (1866) 

Height 22 inches, Length 12 l A inches. Depth 8 inches. 

A sentimental portrait of the old village doctor attending 
to a charity patient; a woman with an infant in arms. This was 
one of the most beloved groups according to the Smiths. 




23. THE SCHOOL EXAMINATION (1867) 

Height 20 inches. Length 13 inches. Depth 9 inches. 

One of the School Committee has come to examine the 
school, and is pointing out, good-naturedly, on the slate, the 
mistake the little girl has made in her sum, while the teacher 
stands by to encourage her. 



(15) 




24. THE COUNCIL OF WAR (1868) 

Height 24 inches. Length 15 inches. Depth IS in. 

The President's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, (who lived in 
Manchester, Vermont,) said the model of his father was the 
best likeness he had ever seen. Secretary of War Stanton 
praised it highly in a letter to Rogers. Wallace reports var- 
iants: — one with Stanton wiping his glasses behind Lincoln's 
head; another more common version shows Stanton wiping his 
glasses over Lincoln's shoulder. The third has Stanton's right 
arm hanging at his side, with his left holding glasses. 

25. CHALLENGING THE UNION VOTE (1868) 

Height 22 inches. Length 18 inches. Depth 11% inches. 

This shows three figures, a man seated at a desk, another 
standing behind him, and a girl leaning on the ballot box. A 
voting scene in the south before the war, this Group is seldom 
found in good condition. 



(16) 



26. COURTSHIP IN SLEEPY HOLLOW or 
ICHABOD CRANE AND KATRINA VAN 
TASSEL (1868) 

Height I6V2 inches. Length 15Vi inches. Depth 9 inches. 

Designed from Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy 
Hollow where Ichabod Crane tries to gain the affections of 
Katrina Van Tassel. They are both seated on an old-fashioned 
Dutch settle, and while she is caressing a kitten in her lap, he is 
urging her to accept a bouquet. 




27. THE FUGITIVE'S STORY (1869) 

Height 22 inches. Length 16 inches. Depth ll^/i inches. (For picture see page 5) 

Three men prominent in the anti-slavery movement, 
William Lloyd Garrison, John Greenleaf Whittier and The 
Rev. Henry Ward Beecher are listening to the story of an 
escaped female slave with child. All three men said these 
were excellent likenesses. Rogers make measurements of his 
subjects which accounts for their accuracy. 



(17) 



28. COMING TO THE PARSON (1870) 

Height 22 inches. Length 17 inches. Depth 10 l A inches. 

The Minister is sitting in his study at his table, reading his 
paper, and has just looked up to notice a couple approaching 
hand in band. The young man is pointing with his thumb to bis 
companion, and asking the parson to marry them. His dog has 
just caught sight of the parson's cat. 

This was the most popular and successful of the Rogers 
Groups; 8000 castings were sold at $15.00 each, all witbin a few 
months of publication. 




29. PARTING PROMISE (1870) 

Height 22 inches. Length 10 inches. Depth 8 inches. 

A young man is about to start on a journey, and, on parting 
from his lady-love, puts an engagement ring on her finger. 

When Rogers finished with the Civil War Groups, he took 
up the more sentimental subjects dear to the hearts of the 
rural folk of the time. A variant of this Group shows the man 
without mustaches. 

(18) 




30. THE FOUNDLING (1870) 

Height 21 inches. Length 12 inches. Depth 11 inches. {For Picture, see page 2) 

A poor woman has left her baby, in a basket filled with 
straw, at the door-step of an old gentleman, who comes out 
with his lantern, and takes it kindly up, while she listens be- 
hind the fence to hear how it will be received. She has one of 
the baby's shoes in her hand for a keepsake. 

31. RIP VAN WINKLE AT HOME (1871) 

Height 18Yi inches. Length 10 inches. Depth 10 inches. 

Rip is resting against a fence, and watching a little fellow 
who is straining to raise and aim his gun, while a little girl has 
put his hat on, and is pulling his hair to attract his attention. 
As Washington Irving says in his story: "The children of the 
village would shout with joy whenever he approached. He 



(19) 




assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them 
to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of 
ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about 
the village, he was surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on 
his skirts, clambering on his back, and playing a thousand 
tricks on him with impunity." 

This and the other Rip Van Winkle groups were suggested 
by the play in which the great actor Joseph Jefferson took the 
lead. For these groups the noted actor posed for Mr. Rogers. 

32. RIP VAN WINKLE ON THE MOUNTAIN 

(1871) 

Height 21 inches. Length 9Yi inches. Depth 9Yi inches. 

Hearing his name called, he hastened down the mountain, 
while "Wolf bristled up his back," and looked "fearfully down 
the glen." They met a "short, square-built old fellow, with 
thick bushy hair and a grizzled beard. His dress was of the 
antique Dutch fashion — a cloth jerkin strapped around the 



(20) 



waist, several pairs of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, 
decorated with rows of buttons down the side, and bunches at 
the knees. He bore on his shoulder a stout keg, that seemed 
full of liquor, and made signs for Rip to approach and help him 
with the load." 

33. RIP VAN WINKLE RETURNED (1871) 

Height 21 x /i inches. Length 9Yi inches. Depth 9 inches. 

Standing in his ruined gateway, Rip tries to recognize his 
old homestead. "He found the house gone to decay, the roof 
fallen in, the windows shattered, and the doors off their 
hinges. A half-starved dog, that looked like Wolf, was skulking 
about it. Rip called him by name, but the cur snarled, showed 
his teeth, and passed on. This was an unkind cur indeed. 'My 
very dog,' sighed poor Rip,' 'has forgotten me.' " 

34. BUBBLES (1872) 

Height Jfi inches. Length 17 inches. Depth 16 inches. 

This life-size statue of a pretty little boy was made for 
lawns and gardens and guaranteed, according to Mr. Rogers, 
"to stand hot and cold weather and rain." Few copies are 
found these days. 




(21) 



35. PLAYING DOCTOR (1872) 

Height 14/4 inches. Length 15 inches. Depth 11)4 inches. 

Two children, dressed in their parents clothes, as mother 
and doctor, are playing that a younger one is sick, and his 
mother has wrapped him in a blanket, and soaked his feet, be- 
fore she called the doctor; but now he has come, with his 
bottles of medicine, and is examining the patient. 

John, and Charles Francis, Mr. Rogers sons and his daugh- 
ter Katherine all posed for this group. 




36. THE FAVORED SCHOLAR (1872) 

Height 21 inches. Length 15Yi inches. Depth 11 inches. 

The teacher is partial to a young girl, and is helping her 
with her sums on her slate, while a boy is making fun of her 
round the corner of the teacher's desk, by putting curls, torn 



(22) 



from the leaves of his book, over his ears. A bunch of lilacs, 
which was probably brought by the favored scholar, ornaments 
the desk. 

Apparently the girl is old enough to be of special interest to 
the young male teacher. 

37. WE BOYS (1872) 

Height 17 inches. Length 15Yi inches. Depth 8 inches. 

The boys have brought the horse to the brook. While he 
has been drinking, the boy who drove him lost the reins, and is 
trying to regain them with his stick, but is alarmed at the 
threatening action of the horse, who is turning his head to bite, 
as he is irritated by the other boy, who is trying to climb on his 
back from the bank, and is pulling himself up by the horse 
blanket. 




(23) 



38. WE BOYS (1872) 

This is the same as No. 37 except the horse was modeled 
with head up instead of down. 

39. HIDE AND SEEK: WHOOP! (1874) 

Height Jfi inches. Length 19 inches. Depth lBYi inches. 

The little girl has concealed herself behind a vase, standing 
on the trunk of a tree, and has just called "Whoop!" to her 
companion. 

This life size figure of a young and comely girl was later 
offered with a stone pedestal for $10.00 extra. The girl stands 
on a cast-iron base and the vase beside her is cast iron to hold 
plants and flowers. 

40. HIDE AND SEEK (1875) 

Height 49 inches. Length 18 inches. Depth 18 inches. 

This companion piece of No. 39 was the tallest of all Groups 
and shows life size figure of a boy, standing next to a pedestal 
and vase. Henry L. Stimson, twice a Cabinet officer (Secre- 
tary of War in World War II) posed for the boy. 




(24) 




41. GOING FOR THE COWS (1873) 

Height 11% inches. Length 14% inches. Depth 9% inches. 

The boy has ridden to the pasture for the cows. The bars 
are down, and the horse is grazing, while the boy and his dog 
are too much interested in a woodchuck's hole to think of the 
cows. 

This group was inspired by the antics of Rogers own child- 
ren in their happy home at New Canaan, Conn. The horse is a 
Vermont Morgan. It is typical of the story-revealing character 
of Rogers work. 

42. THE TAP ON THE WINDOW (1874) 

Height 19% inches. Length 16 inches. Depth 11% inches. 

The gentleman has just come to the point of offering him- 
self, when he is very awkwardly interrupted by a tap on the 
window by some one apparently more congenial to the lady. 



(25) 



43. THE SHAUGHRAUN AND TATTERS (1875) 

Height 20 inches. Length IIV2 inches. Depth 9Yi inches. 

The Shaughraun (which is the Irish name for vagabond) is 
taken from Mr. Boucicault's play of that name, and was mod- 
eled from him in all its details. It represents him in the scene 
where he describes how he made his dog perform to amuse the 
soldiers outside the prison where his master was confined, 
while he played familiar tunes on his fiddle to let him know he 
was there. 

Dion Boucicault was a very popular writer of 19th century 
lurid melodramas. One, "After Dark, or Neither Maid, Wife, 
Nor Widow," was revived in 1927 in Hoboken by a group of 
New York writers of which I was one. 

44. CHECKERS UP AT THE FARM (1877) 

Height 20 inches. Length 17 inches. Depth 13 inches. 

A gentleman who has gone up to the farm with his wife 
and baby, is playing checkers with the farmer, who has forced 
his opponent's pieces into positions where they cannot be 
moved without being taken. The lady is watching the game, 
while the child in her arms is amusing itself by kicking off the 
checkers on the board. 

This was a popular Group, probably the second best seller, 
Over 5000 copies were sold at $15.00 each. 

45. WASHINGTON (1875) 

Height 30 inches. Length 10 inches. Depth 10 inches. 

Rogers notebooks reveal many descriptions of Washington's 
portraits, measurements and sketches of uniforms so that this 
portrait might be accurate. 

46. WEIGHING THE BABY (1877) 

Height 21 inches. Length IB inches. Depth IS inches. 

The lady has brought her baby to be weighed in the grocer's 
scales, and has placed it in the balance. A boy is pulling down 
and adding to the weight of the baby, unseen by the others, 
who are surprised at the high weight recorded. 



(26) 



The mother was posed for by Mrs. Rogers, the boy by her 
son Charles Francis Rogers. This country store scene was one 
of the most familiar because the country store was the great 
institution of that era. 




47. THE MOCK TRIAL or ARGUMENT FOR 
THE PROSECUTION (1877) 

Height 21 inches. Length 21 inches. Depth HY2 inches. 

This represents a parlor scene where a young man is 
charged with committing some offense. The lady, who takes 
the part of prosecuting attorney, is delivering such a withering 
and sarcastic argument to the judge against the prisoner, that 
he turns round for protection to the young lady policeman who 
has him in charge. Mr. Rogers sister posed for the prosecutor. 



(27) 



48. SCHOOL DAYS (1877) 

Height 21 l A inches. Length 1 2% inches. Depth 9 inches. 

Two children, on their way to school, stop to see the danc- 
ing figures in a hand-organ. The little girl is still intently 
watching them, but the boy is startled by the loss of his hat, 
which has been snatched from his head by the monkey on the 
organ. 




49. THE TRAVELING MAGICIAN (1877) 

Height 23 inches. Length 15 l /2 inches. Depth 15 inches. 

The Magician has fitted up a temporary stand and is per- 
forming his tricks before an old man and a boy, who represent 
the audience. He has the old man's hat, out of which he has 
taken several things, and is just now lifting out a rabbit, much 
to the astonishment and amusement of both. The Tambourine 
girl, seated in front, is tired out and has fallen asleep. 



(28) 



50. PRIVATE THEATRICALS or LAST MO- 
MENTS BEHIND THE SCENE (1878) 

Height 24 l A inches. Length 20 inches. Depth 12 inches. 

The lady and gentleman are dressed for some play in the 
costume of the time of Louis XIII.; and are just preparing to 
appear on the stage. The lady is taking a last look at her part 
in the book, and the gentleman is putting the finishing touches 
to her brow with burnt cork. 

Mr. Rogers, as were many of his day, was deeply interested 
in drama, especially the Shakespearean. This was the heyday 
of the fame of the greatest of all dramatic actors, Edwin Booth, 
not only the noblest of them all, but the founder of my New 
York Club, The Players. 




(29) 




51. THE SITTER (1878) 

Height 17 inches. Length 8Y1 inches. Depth 8 x /i inches. 

This one of a pair shows a woman (posed by Mrs. Rogers) 
posing her child on a table for the photographer. 

52. THE PHOTOGRAPHER (1878) 

Height 18 inches. Length 8Yv inches. Depth 8 X A inches. 

This companion piece to The Sitter was made to use on 
mantel as one of a pair. This pair was smaller than most groups. 

53. THE PEDDLER AT THE FAIR (1878) 

Height 20 inches. Length 14 inches. Depth 11 inches. 

The Peddler is on horseback with his box of jewelry before 
him, and is watching with interest the result of the solicitations 
of the young lady by his side, who is coaxing her father to buy 
a necklace. The Peddler's cart was as familiar as the country 
store. 

(30) 



54. THE BALCONY (1879) 

Height 82 inches. Length 15 inches. Depth 11 inches. 

The lady in the Balcony is supporting her little boy, who is 
dropping over the railing a piece of money into the hat of one 
of the street musicians below, while the girl, with a tambourine, 
is making a dog sit up and balance something on his nose. This 
is one of the most intricate examples of the Rogers' castings. 




(31) 



55. POLO (1879) 

Height 21 inches. Length 16 inches. Depth llYz inches. 

The rider in the background is trying to take the ball past 
the flag, and so win the game — but which his opponent is just in 
time to prevent. The flag and all parts of this group that 
would be liable to injury are made in metal. 

This departure from the folk ways of the people was not 
very successful. 




Jl II Plft l!i i k. '.! 'so ! nomin him ': j jf jl th^bonb™ 



56. IS IT SO NOMINATED IN THE BOND? 

(1880) 

Height 23 inches. Length 19 x /2 inches. Depth 12 x /i inches. 

Antonio Bassanio, Portia, and Shylock are here represented 
in the trial scene from Shakespeare's play of the "Merchant of 
Venice." The stairs are supposed to lead to the seat of the 

(32) 



Duke, who presides over the court, but is not represented in 
this group. Portia has disguised herself as a lawyer, and has 
come to assist the Duke with her legal knowledge. She has the 
bond in her hand which Antonio has given, and by which he 
agreed that Shylock should have a pound of his flesh if he did 
not repay the money he had borrowed. 

Edwin Booth was the model for Antonio. 

57. THE REFEREE (1880) 

Height 22 inches. Length 11 inches. Depth llYi inches. 

An old gentleman, as the Referee, is measuring the height 
of two ladies, one of whom is playfully adding to hers by stand- 
ing on tiptoe. The costumes belong to the last century. 

By "last century" Mr. Rogers meant the 18th. 




(33) 



58. THE WRESTLERS (1880) 

Height 27 inches. Length 17 inches. Depth 14 inches. 

The design of "The Wrestlers" is taken from Shakespeare's 
play of "As You Like It." Celia, the Duke's daughter, with her 
cousin Rosalind, and Touchstone, the court fool, are watching 
the struggle between Charles the wrestler and Orlando, who 
is a young stranger, and apparently no match for the athlete. 

59. A MATTER OF OPINION (1881) 

Height 21 inches. Length 17H inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Two physicians meet by the side of an invalid lady. One of 
them is holding her hand and feeling her pulse, and is appar- 
ently explaining his view of the case. But the other cannot 
suppress his scorn. He is buttoning up his coat and preparing 
to leave. 

This is one of Rogers' several evocative groups about 
physicians. 




(34) 



60. FETCHING THE DOCTOR (1881) 

Height 16 inches. Length 16 inches. Depth 7 inches. 

In my opinion, this is one of the best. The modeling of the 
horse, with all feet off the ground, and the relation of the 
figures to the action, illustrate Rogers professional grasp of the 
classic art. 

61. HA — I LIKE NOT THAT (1882) 

Height 22 inches. Length 19Vi inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Edwin Booth again posed for Rogers in this well beloved 
scene from Othello. This is one of the most decorative castings. 




62. NEIGHBORING PEWS (1883) 

Height 18 l /2 inches. Length 15 l A inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Two ladies have come late to church. The gentleman be- 
hind them is showing the younger one the hymn, which makes 



(35) 



the elder iady feel indignant at the preference shown. The boy 
in the front pew is amusing himself by putting on his father's 
hat and gloves. 

These were the days when the inside of a church was fam- 
iliar to all country people including the young ones. 

63. WHY DON'T YOU SPEAK FOR YOUR- 
SELF, JOHN? (1885) 

Height 22 inches. Length llYi inches. Depth 18 inches. 

This design is taken from Longfellow's poem of the "Court- 
ship of Miles Standish." Miles Standish was a gruff soldier of 
the Plymouth Colony, and thought Priscilla would make him 
a good wife, but felt diffident in expressing himself as a lover: 
so he asked his "friend and household companion," John Alden, 
to go to Priscilla and tell her that he offered her "his hand and 
his heart," which John did very conscientiously, though in love 
with her himself. Gathering for her on his way a bunch of May 
flowers, he found her spinning; an open psalm-book was on her 
lap, from which he had heard her singing as he approached. 

64. YOU ARE A SPIRIT I KNOW, WHEN DID 
YOU DIE? (1885) 

Height 19 inches. Length 19 inches. Depth 14 inches. 

Another Shakespearian play in which Edwin Booth posed 
for King Lear, the part he took in the play. 

65. MADAME, YOUR MOTHER CRAVES A 
WORD WITH YOU (1886) 

Height 20 inches. Length I8V1 inches. Depth 11 inches. 

Shows the first meeting of Romeo and Juliet when Romeo, 
disguised as Palmer, tries to kiss the hand of Juliet while her 
nurse interferes. 

66. THE ELDER'S DAUGHTER (1886) 

Height 21 } 2 inches. Length 17 1 2 inches. Depth 10 inches. 

The Puritan Elder seated on a horse with his daughter be- 
hind him, does not approve of the young swain making love to 
his daughter on the Sabbath. 



(36) 



67. PHRENOLOGY AT THE FANCY BALL 

(1886) 

Height 20 inches. Length 9 l A inches. 

The "art" of discerning character by the shape of the head 
was all the rage in the 19th century. This group shows two 
figures dressed for a fancy ball, one man with his hand on the 
others head. 




68. A FROLIC AT THE OLD HOMESTEAD 

(1887) 

Height 22 l A inches. Length 17}/2 inches. Depth 14/4 inches. 

This depicts an old mother back at the old homestead. Her 
three grown children are frolicking . Probably this design was 
taken from a poem by Whittier. This sort of design contri- 
buted to Rogers title "The Artist of The Common People". 



(37) 




TH £ PEDOlEi ■ •; fAlR 



69. PORTRAIT STATUETTE OF REVEREND 
HENRY WARD BEECHER (1887) 

Height $4 inches. Length 14% inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Mr. Beecher was undoubtedly the best known preacher as 
well as public figure of his era. Dr. Beecher wrote to Rogers 
about this portrait, saying ... "I deem him to be an artist who, 
either purposely, or unconsciously, employs form and color to 
express some worthy thought or emotion, and so allies Art 
directly with the Soul and makes it the tongue of the heart, 
and not merely the nurse of the senses." Not only a pretty 
good example of the moral tone of the time, but of the prose. 

70. THE FIRST RIDE (LADY WITH A HAT) 

Height 18 inches. Length 16% inches. Depth 10% inches. 

This delightful group shows a farm horse, on Rogers' place 
in New Canaan, with a lady (posed by Mrs. Rogers) placing her 
small son on the horse's back and a farm hand on the other 
side steadying the child. 

(38) 



71. THE FIRST RIDE (LADY WITHOUT HAT) 

Same size and subject, except lady has no hat. 

72. POLITICS (1888) 

Height 18 inches. Length 18 inches. Depth 14 inches. 

Two men are disputing a political question, as they are 
seated around a cellaret (containing liquor) . The lady standing 
in back is trying to make peace between them. 

73. FIGHTING BOB (1889) 

Height 34 inches. Base 10 inches square. 

Joe Jefferson posed for this character from one of his 
favorite parts of "Fighting Bob," in Sheridan's The Rivals. 

74. CHESS (1889) 

Height 21 % inches. Length 18 inches. Depth 16% inches. 

Since Mr. Rogers enjoyed chess and often played it with 
his sons, this group was a favorite of his. It shows two men 
playing, with a lady standing, looking over the board. 

75. FAUST AND MARGUERITE, THEIR 
FIRST MEETING (1890) 

Height 22 inches. Length 17 Yi inches. Depth 9}4 inches. 
From the Opera Faust by Gounod. 

76. MARGUERITE AND MARTHA TRYING 
ON THE JEWELS (1891) 

Another scene from Faust. 

77. FAUST AND MARGUERITE LEAVING 
THE GARDEN (1891) 

Height 24V1 inches. Length 20 inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Marguerite has picked a daisy and is standing on the stairs 
pulling off its petals while Faust is telling her of his love. A 
most intricate casting and of great delicacy. 



(39) 




f >«&» 



78. FOOTBALL (1891) 

Height 15 inches, Length 11 inches. Depth 9}/% inches. 

Shows a half-back trying to break through the line, with 
three of the opposing team tackling him. Not a popular group. 

79. THE BATH (1892) 

Height 27 inches. Length 16 inches. Depth 12 inches. 

Although this shows a nude infant in the bath with his 
mother and sister doing the bathing, it received so much 
criticism because it was thought to be shocking that Rogers 
withdrew it. Few copies are in existence. 

80. THE WATCH ON THE SANTA MARIA 

(1892) 

Height 15% inches. Length 12 inches. Depth 11 inches. 

This was Mr. Rogers last Group and was termed by him 
his Swan Song. It shows three figures on the Santa Maria 
looking toward the dawn and a New World. 



(40) 



VEEKLY. Tuesday. Nov. 4. 1969 



Page Eleven 




"Phrenology At The Fancy Ball." In 1886 when Rogers created 
this group, the mystical art of the phrenologist was quite the 
rage in cultured circles throughout the land. Height 20 inches, 
length 9Vi inches. 




"Checkers Up At The Farm." A later version (1877) of Rogers' 
original "Checker Players"— the work that brought him almost 
instant renown in 1860. This one was probably his second best 
seller. It retailed for £15. Height 7(\ inches wiHth 17 inch** 



ANTIQUE AUCTION 







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John Rogers and Antiques Show March 27, 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. 
John Rogers Estate Auction Sunday, March 28, 12:30 p.m. 

Hilton Inn, Fort Wayne Airport Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bair Field 



1*£ 



SLAVE AUCTION 
TOWN PUMR_76^> 
PICKET GUARD llA0 

UNCLE NED'S SCHOOL* H 
^ —ONE MORE SHOT 

WOUNDED SCOUT -^ 
} b^ CHARITY PATIENT 
CAMPFIRE 

D 



JOHN ROGERS — 

PARTING PROMISE 
COMING TO PARSON 
WE BOYS 
GOING FOR COWS 
CHARITY PATIENT 
UNCLE NED'S SCHOOL 
COUNCIL OF WAR 
TAP ON THE WINDOW 
MADAM 






*7* 



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RIP VAN WINKLE AT HOME 

This Doctor was a collector of Rogers Groups for 25 years 

EVERYTHING SELLS, NO RESERVES 






0-+-* 



Hennecke Groups 

Faust and Margeurite 

Bust of Hermes 

Family Cares 

Seaside 

Is That You Tommy 



Rogers Consigned 

Ha I Like Not That 

It Is So Nominated In The Bond 

First Ride 

Coming to Parson 

Checkers Up At The Farm 

Neighboring Pews 



— FINE CHINA — 

R. S. Prussia Chocolate Set; R. S. Germany Chocolate Set Farm Scene, hairline in pot; 6 Beau- 
tiful R. S. Prussia Deep Bowls; R. S. Prussia Sugar Shaker; R. S. Prussia Celery, satin finish; 
R. S. Prussia Flower Urn; Unmarked Cracker Jar; 3 Rose Bowls; Old Ivory Berry Set; Wave 
Crest Signed Box; Amethyst Vases enameled with butterflies; Grape and Cable Signed North- 
wood Purple Carnival Water Set; Signed N Blackberry Purple Water Set; Holly Amber Bowl, 
perfect; 3 Holly Amber Desert Dishes, nice; French Cameo Cracker Jar; Pr. Enameled Cran- 



ANTIQUE AUCTION 




John Rogers and Antiques Show March 27, 9 a.m. till 7 p.m. 
John Rogers Estate Auction Sunday, March 28, 12:30 p.m. 

Hilton Inn, Fort Wayne Airport Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bair Field 






SLAVE AUCTION 
TOWN PUMP_ 7£«> 
PICKET GUARD „ inD 

UNCLE NED'S SCHOOL" I 4 
-ONE MORE SHOT 
-WOUNDED SCOUT 
CHARITY PATIENT 
CAMPFIRE 
RIP VAN WINKLE AT HOME 



— JOHN ROGERS — 

PARTING PROMISE 



COMING TO PARSON 
WE BOYS 
GOING FOR COWS 
CHARITY PATIENT 
UNCLE NED'S SCHOOL 
COUNCIL OF WAR 
TAP ON THE WINDOW 
MADAM 



This Doctor was a collector of Rogers Groups for 25 years 

EVERYTHING SELLS, NO RESERVES 



Hennecke Groups 

Faust and Margeurite 

Bust of Hermes 

Family Cares 

Seaside 

Is That You Tommy 



Rogers Consigned 

Ha I Like Not That 

It Is So Nominated In The Bond 

First Ride 

Coming to Parson 

Checkers Up At The Farm 

Neighboring Pews 



— FINE CHINA — 

R. S. Prussia Chocolate Set; R. S. Germany Chocolate Set Farm Scene, hairline in pot; 6 Beau- 
tiful R. S. Prussia Deep Bowls; R. S. Prussia Sugar Shaker; R. S. Prussia Celery, satin finish; 
R. S. Prussia Flower Urn; Unmarked Cracker Jar; 3 Rose Bowls; Old Ivory Berry Set; Wave 
Crest Signed Box; Amethyst Vases enameled with butterflies; Grape and Cable Signed North- 
wood Purple Carnival Water Set; Signed N Blackberry Purple Water Set; Holly Amber Bowl, 
perfect; 3 Holly Amber Desert Dishes, nice; French Cameo Cracker Jar; Pr. Enameled Cran- 
berry Vases; 2 Barber Bottles; 96 Pes. Sheffeld Silver with Rope Leg Chest; Mary Gregory 
Lavender Warmer with Sail Boats; Kate Green Away Child's Tea Set; Cranberry Pickle 
Castor; Pewter Plate; Oak Kitchen Clock; Oak 6 drawer Spool Cabinet; China Cabinet Lighted; 
Oval Table Hardrock Maple; Oak Dresser, Oak Commode with Towel Bar; Ice Cream Table 
and Chairs; Oak Love Seat; Original Alladin Green Lamp; Floor Model Alladin; Victorian 
Chair; Cherry Drop Leaf Table; Old National Geographies 1930 on, 50 volumes; hard bound 
National Geographies; 10 Gal. two handled Crock; Oak Ice Box Refinished; 2 Drawer Cherry 
Night Stand, nice. 

— CURRIER & IVES — 

Niagara Falls From the Canadian Side, Good Color Walnut Frame 

General Chester A. Arthur, Republican Candidate for Vice President of the United States, 

Cross Leaf Walnut Frame. 
General Taylor Never Surrenders, Original Plank N. Currier 
Death of President Lincoln, Cross Leaf Frame 
Washington Family, Oval Frame 
Lincoln Family, Oval Frame, Nice 
Summer Night Odd Fellow, N. Currier, Rare 
Major General Ambrese E. Bumside 
Autumn on Lake George Haskell 

Major General George B. McClellan Ensign Bridgman & Fanning 
The Late Stephen A. Douglas Ensign Bridgman and Fanning, Rare 
Soldiers Memorial 123 Regiment Co. H. O. Volunteers, Monroeville, Ohio 

THERE ARE OTHER PRINTS NOT MENTIONED. 

— MUSEUM QUALITY — 

Mrs. Fry Reading to the Prisoners in Newgate in the Year 1816, Painted by Jerry Barett, En- 
graved by T. Oldham Balew, 4H4 x 31, London published May 1, 1867, Will Lucas Co., 
Fine Original Frame. 

Noah Webster The Schoolmaster of the Republic, Copyright 1885, published by Root & Tinker 
Tribune Building, New York, Oak Frame. 

Ships of General Navigation Co., Painted by W. J. Huggins, Engraved by E. Duncan, Published 
by Huggins 1841. 

James A. Garfield President of the United States, Published by J. H. Buffords & Sons, Boston 
and New York. 

Louis Icarts Spanish Dancing Girl Nude, Dated 1926 1927, Original Matting & Frame, Mint 
Condition. 

THERE ARE 50 PRINTS THAT WILL BE SOLD, THIS IS PARTIAL LISTING. 
FOR RESERVATION AT THE HILTON INN CALL 219-747-9171 
REFRESHMENTS WILL BE AVAILABLE 

CONDITIONS OF SALE 

If you are not sure of your standing with our firm, please consider this as a cash sale unless your check 
is accompanied by a current "Letter of Reference from Your Bank", do not attend this sale without this 
important information. Absolutely no checks will be accepted without this information unless you are 
one of our established customers and have establised prior acceptance; any stop payment or bad check 
will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

MAIL BIDS 

Will be accepted with a 50 percent deposit 'Certified Check or Money Order* only will be (accepted for 
deposit. The bid will be executed by the Auctioneer as if the bidder were present Bills to be rendered 
for the amount of which the item was sold. Not necessarily the top amount of the mail bid. All items 
to be paid within 15 days or deposit forfeited. 

SALE CONDUCTED BY 

AUCTIONEER BYER AUCTION SALES CLERKS 

RICHARD BYER wm 8 hire, Ohio DAVE HOUSER 

Phone 419495-2239 £. G. FURHMAN 

ADMISSION CHARGE $1.00 PER PERSON 



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